Flute Buyer's Guide
Some of the Questions Answered Below
Gemeinhardt 2SP Series Student Flutes
Designed for beginning musicians, student
flutes are meant to provide an excellent start for the
first 2-3 years of playing. A student flute typically
features nickel headjoint, body, and footjoint then
silver-plated with plateau keys, an offset G, and a C
footjoint. Occasionally instructors request an open-hole
flute or a flute with the split E mechanism.
Intermediate (Step-Up) Flutes:
Once a student is established and learning the fundamentals
of good playing, it is important to purchase a flute that
will continue his or her musical growth. Intermediate,
"performance," "step-up," or "conservatory" flutes are
usually configured with a solid silver headjoint.
Typically, the body and footjoint are either silver or
silver-plated nickel. Very often intermediate
flutes are equipped with open-hole keys and a B
footjoint. Though in-line G keys are more common, more and
more musicians are choosing offset G keys on intermediate
Designed and constructed with professional musicians in
flutes are high-end instruments made with fine
materials and detailed craftsmanship. Generally,
professional flutes are crafted with open holes and solid
(sterling) silver head, body, and foot joints. Many
professional flutes are handmade to very tight tolerances
for maximum performance.
Handcrafted artisan flutes are true artist quality. The
sky's the limit when it comes to the features of an artisan
flute. While most are still silver-plated over solid
silver, a few feature gold or rose gold-plating and
engraving on the embouchure plate and keys. They are as
much fine pieces of art as well as musical instruments.
View recommended instruments:
Nickel silver is
very durable and more resistant to denting than silver,
yet it still produces a nice tone. For this reason,
student flutes usually feature a nickel silver headjoint,
body and footjoint with silver-plating. Even on many
intermediate and entry-level professional flutes nickel
silver is used for the keys, which is then
silver-plated for a uniform look.
and most professional flutists use flutes made entirely
of silver; because they provide a warm, rich tone with
clean, crisp response. Even flutes that appear gold are
made from solid silver that is then gold-plated. Solid
silver is used because it increases the weight of the
flute which further darkens and focuses the sound, as
well as creates richer overtones. An all-silver flute
requires careful handling and so it is usually not the
best choice for a young student.
found on student
flutes for those allergic to silver. Nickel proves
to be an extremely durable finish that is easily cared
for. Because the material is very light, the sound can
be a bit bright.
The vast majority
of flutes are silver-plated. Silver-plating adds not
only a beautiful finish to the flute, but like solid
silver the added weight darkens and centers the
embouchure plate is used in place of nickel-plating for
flutists allergic to silver. However, all flautists
will appreciate the added "traction" for the bottom
lip, helping with fast passages. A gold embouchure
plate also adds a touch of elegance to a flute's looks
A small number of custom level professional flutes
feature gold-plated head, body and foot joints with
either gold or silver keys. Flutes with gold-plating
feature a colorful, warm tone and wide dynamic
The Three Major Parts of the Flute
This is the part
of the flute the player blows into and has no keys.
Many intermediate instruments feature a headjoint made
of solid silver. The material used to make the
headjoint has a major influence on the overall sound of
the flute, so a solid silver headjoint gives the
instrument the characteristics of a silver flute. The
headjoint includes the tuning cork, which you can move
to adjust the intonation of the flute.
This is the
largest part of the flute and contains most of the key
work. It is the center section and connects to the head
and the foot joints.
This is the
shortest part of the flute and it contains a few keys.
A C foot is standard on most student flutes while most
professional models have a B foot.
flute for students has plateau-style keys that do
not require the more involved fingering technique of
the French-style keys. Plateau-keyed flutes usually
have an "offset" G key, which is a more comfortable and
natural position for students.
Also known as the "Open-hole"
model," the French-style keys are slightly more
expensive in initial cost and maintenance. Its
defining feature is the open holes in the centers of
five of the keys. Open holes have several
- The holes give a slightly
clearer, louder sound due to the less obstructed
- Extra effects are possible
by "half-holing" (covering only half the hole of a
depressed key, to bend the note sharp). This can be
particularly expressive for jazz and other
Offset vs. Inline
The G key is
played with the third finger of the left hand and can
be placed directly "in line" with other keys, which is
believed to produce superior intonation. The G key can
be slightly "offset" toward the outer edge of the flute
making it easier to reach and more comfortable,
especially for small hands.
Other Important Features
Pointed vs. "Y":
The arm is the
part of the mechanism that connects the key to the rod.
"Y" arms attach to the edge of the key and prove quite
sturdy. French or pointed arms extend across the middle
of the key and allow for better key placement, fluidity
and pad sealing.
The Split E
improves intonation and response over the high E, a
problematic note on most flutes.
plate is where the flute player's lip contacts the
headjoint. Several cuts or shapes are available to
match the preference of the individual
Also referred to
as the "chimney," the riser connects the lip plate to
the head. The weight of the metal used for the riser
directly influences the flute's tone (i.e. gold is
darker than nickel).
These hold keys in
place when they are not being used. Stainless steel
springs are found on most student and step-up flutes
because they are very durable. Advanced flutists,
however, prefer the lighter touch of white
Buy Your Flute with Confidence from The Woodwind &
In choosing a flute, you need to consider your
musician's age and skill level, and the kind of use (school
band, marching band, orchestra, etc.) to which they will
put their instrument. If for school, consulting with the
band teacher is a good idea.
Shop our amazing selection of flutes
including Altus Flutes, Powell Flutes, Yamaha Flutes, and more.
Whatever flute you select, The
Woodwind & Brasswind's 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
means you have 45 days to be sure it's right for you. If
it's not, just return it for a full refund.* And you don't
need to worry about paying too much. Our 45-Day Lowest
Price Guarantee means that if you find the same flute
advertised for less elsewhere, we'll make up the
difference. When you buy your flute from The Woodwind &
Brasswind, you can buy with complete confidence.
*All returned woodwind and brass instruments are assessed a
$10.00 sterilization fee. Instruments priced over $3,000.00
are assessed a $20.00 fee.
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